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Workloads at all-time low for SME construction firms

According to the Federation of Master Builders' (FMB) latest state of trade survey, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK construction sector have reported an all-time low building works.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, has argued the results of the survey are the worst seen since 1999, when the organisation began maintaining its records.

The FMB's figures revealed workloads fell across the board in the SME sector during the first quarter of 2012, with more than half of respondents registering a downturn in workloads.

Furthermore, 40 per cent of SMEs in the industry revealed a downturn in new enquiries and outlined the likelihood of further falls in Q2.

Overall, the data spelled a gloomy picture for the construction industry, highlighting the fact that the construction sector general has now been in a state of recession for more than four years.

Mr Berry commented: "Although the government has introduced a number of promising initiatives to try and help the industry, support tends to be awarded to the large volume house builders meaning SMEs still miss out."

He added: "These dismal results for small builders demonstrate the length and severity of the recession in the construction sector."

However, the figures were not all bad, as the survey pointed towards a growing number of SMEs planning to take on more staff over the coming six months, although the number of businesses planning to maintain their levels of employment stood at 55 per cent.

Steve Turner, head of communications at the HBF, recently argued the new-build sector is becoming increasingly attractive to UK buyers, as government assistance has made this option more affordable for many.

He stated that the new-build sector is becoming increasingly competitive in the UK as a result of the efforts by house builders to ensure their product offers excellent value and does not come with the long list of renovation works which can typically be found with older properties. 

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